Recently, I spoke with an attorney that specializes in medical malpractice law in Ohio. And I learned an interesting and puzzling fact about the statute of limitations in the state of Ohio.
A statute of limitations is a law that sets a time limit on a person’s right to file a lawsuit in court. Different states have different time limits.
In Ohio, medical malpractice lawsuits are subject to a one-year statute of limitations. This attorney referred me to Ohio Revised Code 2305.113 [Effective 1/21/2018] Medical malpractice actions. (A) Except as otherwise provided in this section, an action upon a medical, dental, optometric, or chiropractic claim shall be commenced within one year after the cause of action accrued. www.codes.ohio.gov/orc/2305.113v2.
Why am I perplexed? Well, for example, what if a patient underwent leg surgery and the physician committed a human error, and as a result the patient suffered with unbearable pain for over one year because the physician did not order other medical tests to find the problem (whether by incompetence, apathy, fear of malpractice discovery, or other motives). And let’s say the patient sought out a second opinion from another surgeon and was shocked to find out the first physician made a surgical mistake that caused the horrific suffering. And what if the patient’s leg had to be amputated after a year due to dead tissue from lack of blood flow?
According to the attorney I consulted in Columbus, Ohio, this patient cannot sue — the clock was ticking and time ran out. An injured patient must file her malpractice lawsuit within one year after the incident or medical treatment that caused the injury (or this is how I understood it).
Why does Ohio give an injured patient such a short period of time to pursue a medical malpractice claim? I’m baffled.
So I searched for more information and found something about delayed discovery of finding the injury caused by the physician and something about more time in Ohio. And something about the statue of repose under Ohio Revised Code. 2305.113(C) and four years after the date of the malpractice to file suit (with exceptions). That’s when a stress headache visited. So I opened the lid to my lavender essential oil and breathed deeply.
So I researched the unconstitutionality of Ohio’s Medical Statue of Limitations. I read some Ohio Supreme Court cases. What did I get? A bigger stress headache. Aromatherapy didn’t help. Maybe the reason lawyers charge such exorbitant fees is because they have to decipher so much mumbo-jumbo.
So I perused the Cleveland Law Library website and found information provided by the Ohio Bar Association that stated, “Some of the common Ohio time limits for starting civil cases are: 21 years to recover real estate; 8 years to sue on written contracts; six years to sue on oral contracts; two years for actions for personal injuries or property damage; and one year for libel, slander, malicious prosecution, false imprisonment, and professional malpractice. Most other types of lawsuits are subject to a four-year limitation.”
I must have been snoozing in government class because I don’t remember how to go about petitioning to get a law about limitations amended or changed. When I find out, I’ll let you know. Or maybe I’ll go meditate to get rid of my headache first.
The purpose of this article is to provide education to consumers about Ohio’s statue of limitations concerning medical malpractice. Please note that I am not an attorney nor am I providing legal advice. Please consult an attorney for your particular case.
Knowledge is empowering to consumers, so visit your public library and seek help from a reference librarian to found out how to research Ohio Revised Codes. And write to your state senator to express your concern.
Melissa Martin, Ph.D., is an author, self-syndicated columnist, educator and therapist. She resides in Scioto County, Ohio. www.melissamartinchildrensauthor.com. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.